Toops Scoops: White as Rain

My last blog post on the possibility of a social media backlash got some attention -- heck, it even inspired Aartrijk blogger Charles Wasilewski to compare me to Betty White.

But whether we're branding our businesses using Facebook, Foursquare, LinkFaceTwit or speaking at the Kiwanis Club, an insidious fact lurks under all this hoo-ha -- something I wrote about in this blog back in 2008, and made a reappearance in yesterday's National Underwriter. And that is, as the headline said, "Insurance assets not Americans' top financial priority."

From the May 20 news story:

Americans recognize the importance of protecting their assets, but ensuring adequate insurance coverage for homes, cars and other possessions ranks low on Americans’ financial priority list, according to a recent Country Financial survey.

The survey, compiled by Rasmussen Reports, LLC and based on telephone calls to 3,000 Americans, found that just 2.3 percent of Americans listed having the right level of insurance protection on assets as their top financial priority...

With respect to respondents’ biggest financial priorities, having enough money to pay monthly bills far exceeded other concerns, with 53.1 percent stating it is their top priority (Ed: emphasis mine). Saving for a secure retirement (16.6 percent), having adequate health insurance (3.9 percent), saving for a child’s education (2.8 percent), and “some other priority” (5.2 percent) also topped having the right level of insurance protection on assets.

I know I write for a property-casualty publication whose readers primarily insure businesses, and that this article specifically deals with consumers. But the significance of the boldfaced statement above -- that more than half of the respondents were more concerned about simply paying their bills than anything else -- shouldn't be lost on anyone who sells any kind of insurance -- or anything else, for that matter.

This week the Dow had a hissy fit over the turmoil in the EU and an unemployment report that was worse than the so-called experts expected it to be. To put it colloquially, "Well, duh."  To put it in macroeconomic terms that even Goldman Sachs can understand, the economy sucks because people are out of work and can't afford to buy anything. Until that changes, it doesn't matter what happens on Wall Street, in housing and construction, in retail sales or anywhere else that purports to be an indicator of economic health.


And it's precisely that elephant in the room that will ultimately render the MySquareFaceTwit discussion as relevant as the old "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin" controversy.

Do consumers have to buy insurance? Yes. Do consumers have to buy more than the bare bones coverage, upgrade or cover more stuff? No. And even if they wanted to, a huge percentage of them who are unemployed -- 9.9 percent of the U.S. working-age population, as of April -- probably can't afford to.

Luckily for us, though, most Americans can still afford their computer or smartphone service so they can continue to read the latest updates on FaceMyTwitTube -- at least for now. Considering the millions of manufacturing, construction and financial services jobs that the Wall Street Journal says are lost forever,  even Americans' thirst for constant connectedness might not be the inevitability it seems to be now.

In her long-awaited appearance on "Saturday Night Live," Betty White called Facebook being a "huge waste of time," adding that "when I was growing up we had a phonebook, but you wouldn’t waste an afternoon with it.” If our crack lawmakers and big businesses don't figure out a way to address unemployment, we might all be sitting around marketing with the phonebook -- if anyone's phones are still connected and if there's anything left to sit on.

About the Author
Laura Mazzuca Toops,

Laura Mazzuca Toops,

Laura Mazzuca Toops, National Underwriter Property & Casualty executive managing editor, is responsible for the Agent & Broker channel for Her more than 20 years of property & casualty insurance experience includes associate editor at Business Insurance, Midwest managing editor with Insurance Journal, and freelance work for insurers, brokers and trade associations. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Columbia College Chicago. She may be reached at


Resource Center

View All »

Complimentary Case Study: Helping achieve your financial goals By:...

Find out how a Special Investigation Union used TLOxp to save the company money and...

Do Your Clients Hold The Right CDL License?

Learn about the various classes of CDL Licenses and the industries that are impacted by...

Integrated Content & Communications: A Key Business Issue For Insurers

Insurers are renewing their focus on top line growth, and many are learning that growth...

High Risk Insurance Coverage in the E&S Market

Experts discuss market conditions, trends and projected growth in a rapidly changing niche.

Top E-Signature Security Requirements

This white paper covers the most important security features to look for when evaluating e-signatures...

EPLI Programs Crafted Just For Your Clients

Bring us your restaurant clients, associations and other groups and we’ll help you win more...

Is It Time To Step Up And Own An Agency?

Download this eBook for insight on how to determine if owning an agency is right...

Claims - The Good The Bad And The Ugly

Fraudulent claims cost the industry and the public thousands of dollars in losses. This article...

Leveraging BI for Improved Claims Performance and Results

If claims organizations do not avail themselves of the latest business intelligence (BI) tools, they...

Top 10 Legal Requirements for E-Signatures in Insurance

Want to make sure you’ve covered all your bases when adopting e-signatures? Learn how to...

Looking for Markets?

Search Kirschner’s Insurance Directory to help service your hard to place risks.

497 Risk Categories | 70,000 P&C Insurance Markets

Agent & Broker Insider eNewsletter

Proven success tips and essential information to help agents and brokers grow their practice – FREE. Sign Up Now!

Advertisement. Closing in 15 seconds.